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Immune surveillance plays a major role in controlling the proliferation of cancers.
The first level of cancer development results from the incapacity of the cell:
- to repair genetic anomalies,
- or to trigger apoptosis during the immortalisation process.
Indeed, there is a direct link between these “faults” and the immune system and certain genetic mutations can lead to phenotypic modifications of the cell recognised by the immune system.
The interaction between the immune system and the cancer cell can lead to:
- the elimination of the cancer,
- or a state of equilibrium (control of the proliferation of cancer cells without eradication),
- or the escape of the tumour cell from immunological control – cancer escape, the only phase clinically visible. During the progression of cancer, the latter develops different mechanisms to escape attack by the immune system. The immune system loses its efficiency to control cancer growth.
What contribution is made by immune surveillance to cancer research?
Cancer research emphasises the importance of anti-cancer immune surveillance in the control of cancer precursors in cases of relapse and metastasis.
Immune surveillance reduces carcinogenesis and determines the therapeutic response to anti-cancer therapies.
Immunotherapy targeted against cancers is aimed at amplifying the natural response of the immune system against cancers. Designing therapeutic anti-cancer antibody treatments capable of exploiting the potential power of an immune reaction directed against a cancer is one of the main orientations of cancer research.